2013: small quantities of excellent vintage Port

After two exceptionally dry years, the winter of 2012-13 was wet with the heaviest rainfall recorded in March, all of which helped to restore ground water levels prior to the growing season. The spring was cooler than average and the growing season was slow to start but by early summer the vines looked exceptionally healthy after all the winter rain. Almost no rain at all fell in June, July and August and, although there were periods of intense heat, the summer was only marginally warmer than average. At the start of September grape maturation was still ten days behind the norm. and picking only began around 12th in the Douro Superior and 23rd in the Cima Corgo. For the next five days the weather was perfect and some excellent wines were made. Then on 27th a deep depression blew in from the Atlantic and it rained on and off for 6 days. From 4th October the fine weather returned and continued until 19th, by which time the harvest was in. The rain forced some to pick earlier than planned with Touriga Franca being the main variety affected. Nonetheless, shippers produced small quantities of excellent wine making this a good single quinta Port vintage, especially in the Douro Superior. 

The following wines were all tasted together in the order set out below:

Sandeman, Quinta do Seixo 2013 ***/****

Declared to celebrate the 225th anniversary of Sandeman with 30% of the blend from 100 year old vines and the remaining Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Sousão ad Tinta Francisca coming from vines with an average age of 50 years: very deep and nearly opaque in colour; dense but still rather demure with underlying ripe, plummy fruit on the nose; rich and round initially with ripe, dusty tannins rising in the mouth. Not especially big for Sandeman (their 2011 was a stonker) but a well-balanced wine for the medium term.  2025 – 2035 16.5 

Fonseca Guimaraens 2013 ***/****

Guimaraens is the second label of Fonseca, declared in good, ‘in-between’ years: deep and nearly opaque; fragrant berry fruit with a touch of green hedgerow on the nose; well-defined, peppery-spicy fruit, firm tannins leading to a fresh, vibrant finish. Quite slim in style but bright and balanced. 2020 - 2030  16.5  

Dow, Quinta Senhora da Ribeira 2013 ****

Deep, opaque; very rich, ripe fruit with just a touch of tar on the nose showing the heat of the vintage; broad and ripe, backed by solid, ripe tannins, quite opulent in style, especially for Dow, with a long broad finish. Outstanding wine for the medium-to-long term. 2025 – 2040. 18 

Quinta do Vesúvio 2013 ****

Deep, dark and opaque; rich and dense, floral with a hint of violets on the nose, more open than the Sra. da Ribeira; super-sweet and opulent in style, lovely fleshy fruit backed by ripe tannins leading all the way through to a broad, satisfying finish. Big wine. Impressive. 2023 – 2035 17.5 

Quinta do Noval 2013 ****

Declared outright by Noval (they use ‘Silval’ as a brand for those in-between years). Only 1,200 cases were made, representing less than 3% of the production of this 143 ha. quinta. Very deep in colour, nearly opaque; deep and demure on the nose, still a bit raw and disjointed and needing time to come together, underlying dark chocolate concentration; fresh sweet-berry fruit, firm and well defined with grippy, peppery tannins, though not especially big, lithe and elegant all the way through to the finish. Lovely definition and balance. 2025 – 2040 +  18            


19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty